Emergence as an Explanatory Principle in Artificial Societies. Reflection on the Bottom-Up Approach to Social Theory

  • Martin Neumann
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 5466)


This article investigates the notion of emergence in Artificial Societies. Roughly, two competing approaches to the foundations of social science exist: A micro foundation of social theory on the one hand and a notion of an emergent holistic social theory on the other. This dichotomy re-appears also in Artificial Societies. It will be argued that philosophical decisions made on the methodological level of how to interpret the concept of emergence will result in different sociological theories. This will be demonstrated by re-examining considerations on emergence undertaken by Joshua Epstein, who argues for a micro foundation of social theory. These considerations are then settled in the context of the long-lasting debates about emergence in sociology and philosophy of science. Considerations from the complexity theory and Philosophy of Science will be utilised to develop a concept of emergence which leads to the notion of an autonomous social sphere. It is demonstrated by two examples that this concept can be applied to Artificial Societies.


Epistemology of Artificial Societies Complexity Emergence Foundations of Social Theory 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Neumann
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of PhilosophyBayreuth UniversityBayreuthGermany

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